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Mutant Hunt (1987)
Box Art Better Than Movie
I watched this specifically to see a cyborg dude with a super-stretched mechanical arm hold a guy in a radiation suit by his throat, while cowering underneath them a rather voluptuous woman in another rad suit lay prone in a spotlight.
Sadly, this scene never occurred.
The "auteur" of this, Tim Kinkaid, failed so miserably at mainstream fare (this and his equally-horrid "Breeders" were filmed back-to-back) that he put his talent at sucking into good use: gay porn. (His astounding resume is available for perusal here: www.imdb.com/name/nm0454199/)
A True Art Film
The easiest way to describe "Thundercrack!" to another person is to say it is a work of art more than film. Naturally, art is all interpretation; about how well the artist(s) convey their imaginings, and if their patrons understand them; but ultimately, art is expanding boundaries, many of which not only cultural but mental, and creating controversy or any kind of emotional response. Great artists are able to manipulate their patrons' feelings and direct them towards whatever points s/he is trying to make without seeming overbearing or insistent, allowing the patrons to internalize the experience and arrive at their own conclusions. Mediocre artists tend to go for shock or disgust or outrage to make their points, and the results are always mixed.
Which is how I perceive this movie: mediocre. It is interesting to note that this film was released the same year as another micro-budgeted horror send-up, the superior "Rocky Horror Picture Show," a campy, loopy, delirious romp of faux sexuality and outrageous characters. While "Thundercrack!" has the same ham and cheese as "Rocky Horror" does, the former adds plenty of mayonnaise too.
"Thundercrack!" is an artful curio, and not for all tastes, with its out-of-focus black-and-white photography, scenes of abject pornography, and tremendous overacting, and should probably never be viewed by anyone who is not currently on LSD or another mind-altering substance as its incoherence is sometimes maddening when sober. Having said that, I would recommend watching this movie just to test one's open-mindedness and/or liberality; keep in mind, however, that "Thundercrack!" is a product of the '70's and the boundaries back then which this helped break seem therefore tame by today's standards. All that remains is a really weird, surreal exploitation movie, unforgettable in its uniqueness but ultimately more about being unorthodox than understood.
They Live (1988)
Chilling Source Material, Dystopian Movie
The short story upon which this movie is inspired, Ray Nelson's "8 O'Clock in the Morning," should be read before completely understanding how disturbing the source material really is. Chilling and sparse, it is essentially a first draft of a plot, expanded cleverly by John Carpenter, with the same great ending. (Carpenter loves to end his movies with zingers, in case you had not noticed!) I would highly recommend fans of this movie read Nelson's story to get a different, darker, tale than the one Carpenter made, and with good reason: In the story, you are never really sure if its protagonist is really a nut or if he has been programmed to act the way he does, because it seems his grip on reality is tenuous at best, and so everything you are reading could be a complete derangement -- or it could all be true. People kill each other daily over just such obviously mad conclusions.
Let's See the REAL Cut of This!
The first of two cinematic collaborations between Sam Raimi and the Coen brothers ("The Hudsucker Proxy," on which Raimi was Second Unit Director, is the other), this hilarious movie could have, SHOULD have, been a lot funnier. The story behind why it ISN'T is just as wacky as the flick itself:
After the unexpected success of "Evil Dead" in 1982-'83, Embassy Pictures, which had released "Escape From New York," among others, contacted the young Sam Raimi about possibly directing a comedy written by two up-and-comers named Joel and Ethan Coen. Raimi read the riotous script and was eager to put it on film, keeping in close contact with the Coens so he could capture the zany spirit of the script intact. Operating on an extremely tight budget, and with constant interference from the studio, "The XYZ Murders" (the film's original title) was finished sometime in 1984 -- and promptly shelved. Never liking or understanding the humor of the movie, the executives at Embassy (being pressured to find a hit because the studio was floundering) told Raimi, "No, this is another one of your CULT movies, we don't WANT that." (These are not, by the way, my words; this is all from an interview in "Fangoria" Sam Raimi did in 1985 or '86.) So, the studio, trying to keep afloat, re-edited the final cut of the movie, releasing it as "Crimewave." It did not, of course, work, as Embassy Pictures went bankrupt that same year, but not because of this film -- Embassy was finished long before they released this, actually.
If there was some way Raimi and the Coens could, I wish they would go back to this movie and either remake it or re-release it in its intended form. "Crimewave" was good, but you could tell it had been butchered (which gave it its uneven tone). In the "Fangoria" interview, Raimi confessed he regretted the way "The XYZ Murders" turned out -- so why not re-do it now that he can probably do anything he wants (thanks to the "Spider-Man" series)?
What a shame that a struggling movie studio took a great, unique, funny movie and turned it into a curiosity. I'm sure, as we all know, THAT never happens anymore.
Alien 51 (2004)
I made the mistake of devoting some minutes I'll never live again to this garbage of a movie. I can't say bad enough things about it. The people who funded (which means they evidently rented a video camera and then attached it to the back of a wild animal, based on the tracking and POV shots) this travesty should be banned from ever making another film. Like Tom Hanks and "Bachelor Party," this is one you'll never see on an actor/actress' resume'. I enjoy bad movies, but even I can't recommend this, on ANY level: It's not campy, it's not witty, it's not even remotely entertaining. Skip over it if you see it on Starz (as I did), and don't spend your hard-earned money/time on it, either. I'm just trying to save you the trouble and pain.